Story by Carrie Beth Wallace
Starting Monday, October 5, The Voices of the Valley Children’s Chorus will resume rehearsals in person on the fourth floor of the RiverCenter Parking Garage. This will be the first time since March the ensemble has been able to gather safely.
Unlike other music disciplines, singing presents incredible challenges when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19. The virus is primarily spread through respiratory secretions in the air - making the very concept of singing in groups nearly impossible unless the ensemble is able to spread out appropriately. Enter the parking garage solution.
Though extreme, VOV founder Dr. Michelle Folta and her team of music educators know meeting at the garage is the only way to ensure their students' safety while making music together again.
"I feel a little bit like Dr. Seuss…I’ll teach on Zoom, in a parking garage, in a field…," said Folta, laughing. "I’m so excited to see them and hear them again, I may just weep through the first rehearsal."
Dr. Michelle Folta, founder and director of Voices of the Valley Children's Chorus, waves to students at a drive-by event early this season.
Like many other youth organizations across the globe, VOV was forced to meet exclusively virtually for the first part of their season. They achieved this through utilizing the latest virtual rehearsal technology.
A sample of the choral music technology Voices of the Valley students have been using to rehearse virtually this season.
"Our educators have been absolutely incredible," said Rick McKnight, VOV Chair. "Dr. Michelle Folta and her staff have utilized the absolute latest technology to enable our students to continue their training. Now, after months of meeting virtually, we're thrilled to get everyone safely back together starting in October."
Voices of the Valley began the semester virtually in August with each choir participating in choral coaching, musicianship skills, and choir connections activities via Zoom. For the last 2 months, VOV singers have submitted singing assignments using My Choral Coach and musicianship assignments using Breezin’ Thru Theory to prepare for virtual rehearsals.
The decision to meet in person has not been one made lightly. "The most current research on singing and COVID-19 provide a framework to safely conduct outdoor in person rehearsals," explained Folta. "All VOV singers and staff will wear masks, socially distance, and limit 'active singing' to 30 minute blocks followed by breaks of silence."
It's important to know that all students will not be required to participate in person. The conductors will utilize Zoom for singers who still require virtual rehearsal.
VOV's rehearsals will culminate in a free concert at the end of the semester. A selection of holiday music will be offered in concert in the parking garage on Monday, December 14, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. Stay tuned for more information by visiting their website here. ◼︎